The Important Difference Between a Road and a Street

Chuck Marohn is the director of the non-profit group Strong Towns, a group focused on what they call the root of America’s systemic problems: our land use patterns. What separates them from a lot of the smart growth crowd is that they come at the problem from a business perspective, making the financial argument that many urbanist groups struggle with.

Our problem was not, and is not, a lack of growth; Our problem is sixty years of unproductive growth,” said Marohn. The American pattern of development does not create real wealth; it creates the illusion of wealth. Today we are in the process of seeing that illusion destroyed and with it the prosperity we have come to take for granted.” The headline on their website states that Our desire for independence has made us dependent. On automobiles. On cheap energy. On transfer payments between governments. On debt. Our expectation of plenty, and our expectation to pay only a portion of the full cost of growth, has led to a scarcity of resources. Our approach to land use now constrains us, growing our financial commitments at an alarming rate. It threatens real American prosperity with long-term economic stagnation and decline.”

I think this is a great way to approach the problem, and one that decision-makers will actually listen to. Take a look at Marohn’s TED talk, then go check out their recently-released report here.

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